A new Android banking trojan is also ransomware

The Xbot is not widespread yet but is targeting devices in Australia and Russia

A new kind of Android malware steals online banking credentials and can hold a device's files hostage in exchange for a ransom, delivering a particularly nasty one-two punch.

The malware, called Xbot, is not widespread yet and appears to be just targeting devices in Australia and Russia, wrote researchers with Palo Alto Networks in a blog post on Thursday.

But they believe whomever is behind Xbot may try to expand its target base.

"As the author appears to be putting considerable time and effort into making this Trojan more complex and harder to detect, it’s likely that its ability to infect users and remain hidden will only grow," Palo Alto wrote.

Xbot uses a technique called activity hijacking to carry out attacks aimed at stealing online banking and personal details.

It essentially allows the malware to launch a different action when someone tries to launch an application. User are unaware that they're actually using the wrong program or function.

Activity hijacking take advantage of features in Android versions prior to 5.0. Google has since developed defenses against it, so only older devices or those that have not been updated would be affected.

In one type of attack, Xbot monitors the app a user has launched. If it is a particular online banking app, Xbot intervenes and displays an interface that obscures the real app.

The bogus interface is actually downloaded from a command-and-control server and displayed using WebView, Palo Alto wrote. The legitimate applications are not actually tampered with.

"So far we’ve found seven different faked interfaces," Palo Alto wrote. "We identified six of them – they’re imitating apps for some of the most popular banks in Australia. The interfaces are very similar to these banks’ official apps’ login interfaces. If a victim fills out the form, the bank account number, password, and security tokens will be sent," to the command-and-control server.

Xbot can also bring up an interface through WebView saying the device has been infected with CryptoLocker, a well-known ransomware program. Ransomware encrypts files and then asks for payment for the decryption key. In this case, the attackers ask for US$100 to be paid through a spoofed PayPal site.

Xbot will actually encrypt files on the device's external storage. However, the encryption algorithm used is weak, and it would be possible to recover the files, Palo Alto wrote.

Xbot can also scrape the phone for personal data, such as contacts, SMSes and phone numbers and send the data to the attackers.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Google 5.0Palo AltoXbotAndroidtrojanmalware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?